I mentioned Sawazaki’s study group in my last post and on reflection I think there was some more to talk about there.
First thing about that group is that it’s actually called Mamushi League and does have a season of sorts. (I assume Mamushi refers to the “pit vipers” definition and not the “broiled eel in rice goop”) Saturday’s meeting was the final meeting for this season. Taking everyone’s best 3 positive scores from the previous 6 meetings, the top 8 went to a play off round of 2 games, and the final four played one more game to decide the season winner.
It’s been a while since I’ve played in a situation like that where at the end of the game, I MUST get above a certain amount of points that I know exactly. In league of course, I can’t see other people’s score until after it’s all done so I can’t know how many points I need to move up or stay. I just need to go for max points every time. But in a semifinal or final, I know the scores of everyone I’m up against, so on the final hand, I know exactly how many points I need (or can lose) to move on or win the whole thing.
Or at least I should. The first game of my table’s semifinal I pulled out a big hand at the end to save 2nd place with 1st place comfortably further out. But in the second game the 3rd and 4th place guys came back on strong and by the end they were up in the game but still only separated by a few points. I was at the bottom with 27,100 and the top wasn’t far away with only 33,500. I reasoned that with both of them above me, I needed to push at least one below to take second over all. I really should have done the math because in fact, 700/1300 would have pushed me into 3rd place because the third place penalty would have become small enough that I’d still have enough for second place. I only realized that after that first last-hand ended in a draw with the dealer and I finishing tenpai. Having exchanged 1500 points with the previously 3rd place player I realized I was now in second overall! Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb!
Now we were in an even more precarious position! Everyone controlled their own fate in that if they won any hand, they’d assure themselves of at least 2nd. The original top just had to not lose a big hand and would finish at worst second no matter who might draw out to take first. Oh the excitement! Except that hand also ended in a draw with just the top guy paying the rest of us 1000 each and nothing changing.
It felt strange to have the final table decided so non-momentously but when time runs out, that’s often what happens. The final table ended with a similar fizzle when I put together a position changing mangan hand as time was being called, but just couldn’t draw the winner. Still, it felt good to have figured out what I needed, and then executed to at least get myself into a position where a win was possible. In the end at least I played well.
In the afterglow, in addition to chapping him for giving up a win in M-league the night before, one of us losers asked how to become a strong player and he gave an answer I hadn’t heard before: when you lose, don’t eat. He sorta backtracked a bit when challenged to allow perhaps some natto (stinky fermented beans) but I get the point. At the very least, I shouldn’t reward myself for losing. Good food and drink should go with an accomplishment. And I do feel soft lately.
After pigging out on a lot of top notch Chinese food and several pitchers of beer I’ve had some time to reflect. I don’t know if I’m gonna go full Buddhist monk, but I do need to do something to return a little fire to my game. Perhaps a little fire in the belly will do the trick. Or maybe that is the real meaning of the group’s name! Better win or it’s nothing but broiled eel and rice goop for me!